A video narrated by James Garner shown before Oklahoma football games a few years ago contained a line that Owen Field was the place “where young lads dream of one day wearing the crimson and cream.”
For Sterling Shepard, truer words were never spoken. There was never any choice but the University of Oklahoma for the star wide receiver from Heritage Hall.
“He wanted to be a Sooner since he was a little kid,” Sterling's mom, Cheri Shepard said Wednesday after her son officially signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of Oklahoma.
“He had a little helmet and the whole uniform. He would run around and pretend to be Torrance Marshall. He would act it all out in the living room.”
Sterling will become the fourth member of the Shepard family to don the crimson and cream, joining his father Derrick and uncles Woodie and Darrell as Sooners. Sterling likes to watch film from his dad and uncles' games at OU and compare their play to his.
“It's great watching those guys on film and trying to see what they have,” Shepard said. “I get to see what they are all about. I compare and see what similarities we have.”
Sterling's father, Derrick, died of a heart attack age at age 35. Sterling was just 6 at the time.
Cheri said Wednesday that it was meant to be that her son would follow in his father's footsteps to OU.
“I just told my daughter that last night,” Cheri said. “I always knew he was going to play for the University of Oklahoma. I just felt that in my heart. He's been athletic since birth and I just kind of knew it was going to happen for him. I know his daddy would be proud of him.”
Even though he is a Shepard, Sterling may remind OU fans of a Sooner legend in another sport. Sterling has a smile that evokes comparisons to Wayman Tisdale.
Heritage Hall Assistant Athletic Director Kelly Allen said Sterling's smile would light up a room the same way Wayman's did.
“It's that kind of infectious smile,” Allen said. “He's that personable. He comes by it naturally. Those teachers who had contact with Sterling, that smile is going to be something that they will remember.”
Cheri said her son is a sweetheart off the football field.
“He has a bubbly personality and he is always joking around,” she said. “He has a heart so big. He is a teddy bear and very sentimental.”
Now, Sterling will take that infectious smile and talent to the University of Oklahoma, the place he always wanted to be.
“I didn't feel like I should bring my talent anywhere else but the Sooners,” Sterling said. “They have been like a family to me. I feel like that is the best place for me. It's always been my dream.”